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Foire aux vins: How to find bargains on high quality wine in France

The Local France
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Foire aux vins: How to find bargains on high quality wine in France
A client looks at wine on sale in a store in Strasbourg in 2009. (Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

In France, autumn is an ideal time to stock up on high-quality French wine, as supermarkets, cavistes, and websites alike hold the annual 'Foire aux vins' wine sales.

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For consumers, it is the perfect time to buy that expensive vintage you have had your eye on, or maybe stock up on a few special bottles.

Invented in 1973, the grocery store E.Leclerc was the one to come up with the concept of hosting seasonal wine fairs (foire aux vins). The idea was to democratise wine consumption, while simultaneously helping wine producers and sellers make space ahead of the next harvest. 

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Foire aux vins occur twice a year - in the autumn and the spring, though the event in autumn tends to be larger and more involved. In recent years, almost all stores that sell wine have began taking part by offering their own mark-downs.

On average, about 54 million bottles are sold per year, with prices averaging between €5 and €20.

While foreigners might not have heard of this yearly sale before, the majority of French people take part each year. In fact, ahead of the 2020 foire aux vins, over 70 percent of French people reported that they planned to participate. 

Here are some tips so you can get the best deals:

Deciding where to go - There are pros and cons to purchasing your wine online or in a supermarket or caviste

The benefit to buying online is that you can do your research at the same time and order directly to your home, which might be useful if you are buying in bulk. However, what you gain in accessibility you lose in personal contact.

The advantage to dedicated wine shops is staff-members' helpful advice and knowledge. They can help you find the right wine that fits your tastes, as well as provide tips for pairing. For supermarkets, you benefit from a wider array of options, though less specialised advice. 

Know the dates - each supermarket and wine cave chooses their own dates for their autumn and spring wine sales. Most start either in late August or early September for the autumn foire aux vins, and run for about three to four weeks, typically. Some, however, do not start until late September. 

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The Revue du vin de France published the dates for 2023:

In-person stores

Casino Supermarchés: August 25th to September 10th

Géant: August 28th to September 10th

Petit Casino, Spar, Vival: September 5th to September 17th

E.Leclerc: Starting online September 5th, starting in-store September 30th

Intermarché: September 5th to September 24th

Auchan: in 'supermarchés' from September 5th to 24th, in 'hypermarchés' from September 26th to October 9th 

LIDL: Starting September 6th

Cdiscount: September 6th to September 24th

Match: September 7th to September 24th

Les Comptoirs de la Bio: September 13th to September 23rd

Monoprix: September 15th to October 1st

Franprix: September 18th to October 8th

Biocoop: September 18th to October 14th

Aldi: Starting September 26th

Système U stores: September 26th to October 7th

Carrefour Contact, Express and City: September 26th to October 8th

Carrefour hypermarkets: September 26th to October 9th

Netto: September 28th to October 11th

Cora: September 29th to October 14th

Carrefour Market: October 5th to October 22nd

Nicolas (Caviste): September 6th to October 3rd

Online stores

Vinothèque de Bordeaux: August 24th to September 28th

Wine and Co: August 30th to October 3rd

Comptoir des millésimes: August 30th to October 5th

Le Petit Ballon: September 1st to October 1st

Vins & Millésimes: September 4th to September 18th

XO-vin: September 4th to October 8th

Les Passionnés du Vin: September 6th to September 25th

Cavissima: September 6th to October 3rd

Veepee: September 7th to September 28th

Vinatis: September 7th to October 10th

La Cave du Marché: September 7th to October 15th

Vitis Epicuria: September 8th to October 1st

Millésimes.com: September 12th to October 3rd

Idealwine: September 12th to October 3rd

Twil: September 12th to October 22nd

La Cave du Château: September 19th to October 7th

Cave Pur Jus: November 24th to November 27th

Do your homework - The phenomenon is so popular that ahead of the foire aux vins, wine reporters for major French publications, like Le Monde, take care to develop recommendation lists - complete with prices, stores, and thorough descriptions of the wines.

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Before heading to your local supermarket and you have a budget in mind, you could read Le Figaro's top recommendations for this autumn (in French)

If you prepare ahead of time, you can use the foire aux vins to purchase gifts, wines for special occasions, or even plan ahead and look out for vintages that will appreciate with time. However, once you are in the store, do not be afraid to ask questions. 

You can read through more advice for purchasing wine in France HERE

READ MORE: Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket

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